During Ramazan we tend to add several foods that are popular in the Middle East to our diets.
Here are some Middle Eastern favourites that are not only nutritious, but also have alternative medicinal properties, so make them a permanent part of your diet – during Ramazan, and even after the month is over:
1. Dates are packed with energy; high in fibre, they aid digestion and are filling, which makes them ideal for sehri and iftar.
Alternative remedy: Ground date seed powder is believed to improve heart health, ward off colds, combat diseases such as cancer and minimise the effect of diabetes on the liver and kidneys.
2. Chickpeas and their ground form, gram flour (besan), take centre stage during Ramazan. They are low in calories and high in energy, protein and fibre, so replace pakoras with an oil-free chickpea chaat, salad or hummus for iftar.
Alternative remedy: Besan cooked in milk is believed to cure colds, build strength and improve immunity; it is also an effective exfoliant.
3. Honey is a super food that boosts energy and builds immunity; it also aids digestion. Sweeten your tea with honey at sehri to get an extra boost of energy.
Alternative remedy: Honey dissolved in warm water with lemon is believed to reduce weight, improve skin tone, cure coughs, colds and congestion, and help the body heal from injuries.
4. Yoghurt, an important component of dahi baray – an iftar favourite – is packed with health benefits. Rich in calcium, yoghurt increases immunity and lowers cholesterol levels. Eat a bowl of yoghurt or have a glass of lassi at sehri to curb hunger pangs while fasting.
Alternative remedy: A teaspoon of yoghurt daily enhances memory; apply it on your face to moisturise it, reduce acne and prevent premature aging.
5. Olives and olive oil are believed to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, aid digestion and boost immunity. If you must have those pakoras at iftar, fry them in olive oil.
Alternative remedy: A spoonful of olive oil with warm water helps get rid of coughs; it can aid in relieving muscular pains if applied directly to the affected area.
– Uzma Nawaz
Information verified by Zoya Aleem, a practising herbalist.